EDO RELIGION

by

Segun Toyin Dawodu

segun@edo-nation.net

 

 

 

Like the Egyptians, the Binis believe in many gods and life after death. Their religion grew up from many sources. Some gods and beliefs (or the guiding spirits) of every family were inherited from the first people who settled in Benin; Some were introduced by Obas, e.g. Ekoko, Awanuroho, etc, by Oba Ewuare, and Orumworia by Oba Ozolua; others were introduced by priests and religious thinkers, e.g. Osanughegbe by Okhionkpaimwonyi.

Those apart, the Binis also worship those phenomena they did not understand in nature e.g. too much rain, too much sun, thunder, the sky, etc. Altogether, they worship over 800 gods. These can be classified as follow:

 

DEITIES (ERINMWIN NOHUANREN)

 

  1. OSANOBUA or OSA - The Chief or Supreme God. The god of god. He is also referred to as Oriole, Udazi, Akpama, Okodudu, Oghodua and Ohovba.

  2. OLOKUN - The god Olokun is to the Binis as Athena is to the Greeks. It is the god of the sea - giver of good luck, riches and children. It is also called EZIZA. The Olokun worshipping is more for the women folk. It is worshipped throughout the year; but its annual festival is regular during which period, the priest/priestess and worshippers pray for peace and plenty for the society, and the women pray for children and money. Its worship is done with songs accompanied with drums (ema olokun), maracass (ukuse) and gongs (egogo), to summon the attention of the god. The Priest/Priestess or worshipper dances to inspiration point and starts visionizing and telling the future.

  3. OBIEMWEN - Mother of human beings. The goddess in charge of child delivery.

  4. OGIUWU - The god of death. He eats human flesh and human blood is the fluid he drinks. Ofoe is his chief messenger.

  5. ESU - Devil. The controller of coup d'etats. He is the god of hell. He is the director of art, power, cunning and all knowledge. He is more feared and better served than the good God who is harmless. Any misfortune is taken as his handwork.

  6. ISO - Sky. Holder of lights and water.

 

HERO-DEITIES (IHEN)

These are men or women, some of whom turned themselves into some natural features e.g rivers, ponds, hills, etc.

History holds them as mythical and semi-mythical figures of the past.

The Edos have many of them which they worship with reverence.

These deities have their cults or shrines at their locations of origin, ususally village wide. Although several villages, in some cases worship one deity. Some examples of such are:

 

 

DEITIES

Villages where worshipped

1

OKHUAIHE

EVBIEKOI, IKPE, IKHUEN-NIRO, etc

2

EBOMISI

UGO N'EKI

3

OGIERUMWANBO

OKA

4

ORAVAN

IRHIRHI

5

IZALOGHA

ISI

6

AKE

ISI

7

OVATO

IGIEDUMA

8

OGAN

EKHUAE

9

IREGHEZI

EKAE

10

EZUKU

OGAN

11

EKIORHO

IYEKOGBA

12

IGBAGHON

UGO N'IYEKORHIONMWON

13

EREDE

USEN

14

AWANUROHO

UROHO

15

OVIA

UNUAMEN, UHOGUA, OGHEGHE, OKHUNMWUN

16

EKOKO

UTE

17

ERINMWINDE

EGO

18

ORINMWIORIA

UTEKON

19

ISE

UTEKON

20

ERUMIAN

AHOR

21

OKHUO

ISI

22

IKHOKHO

IGUOGHO, UGBAYON

23

OKPO

OZA

24

ORUE

OKA

25

ADABI

ORA, BENIN-CITY

26

OVBO

UZALA

27

OSA

UZALA

28

EGBAEN

IWU

29

ERUVBI

UTEKON

30

ERHAN VB'IRI

UGIEGHUDU

31

IREWE (Ebo n'uvunokuta)

IYEKOVIA

32

ARO-ISO

UGBEKUN

33

ERHUNMWOGBE

UHI

34

IGBILE

UGHOTON

35

ODIGHI

EHOR

36

OZELA

AYEN

37

EKPENEDE

BENIN-CITY

38

ARENBO

BENIN-CITY

39

EMIHE

BENIN-CITY

40

EKHIBI

BENIN-CITY

41

AGBAGHUZALE

BENIN-CITY

42

EMOTAN

BENIN-CITY

 

SPIRITS OF THE DEPARTED (ERINMWIN N'OWA)

This is the ancestral or lineage shrine.

When a father or a mother dies in Benin, the children make an altar aro-erinmwin in his or her memory. It is here sacrifices are made. It is composed of Ukhure - Staves, Eroro - Bell, and objects.

 

EBO (JUJU)

These are also deities - in their special class.

The deities listed in the first paragraph above also fit in here.

 

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OGUN - god of iron and war.

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OSUN - god of medicine and charms (worshipped by professional doctors)

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OTO - Soil (Edion). The keeper of the peace of the land.